fig 1.This whole internet obsession with #Menswear is getting a little out of control, don’t you think?  As one who has dabbled in style blogging I certainly will not claim to be above it entirely.  Far from it.  I still like to write weekly posts about a new jacket or sweater I want from J.Crew (fig 1.), or something that inspires me from Tumblr, or the new Esquire, etc.  I’m certainly one of the older guys in the game too.  I’m 34, and have actually been involved in menswear since I was about 19 – right about the same age as many of the menswear bloggers that are popular on the web today.

In 1997, I left SUNY Oneonta where I was “studying” as a music industry major.  I wanted to work for a record company, or something.  I got bored, left at the beginning of my fourth semester, and came home where I enrolled at Nassau Community College for a semester before I was scheduled to start CW Post in the fall.  But since I was only going to school part-time that spring semester, I figured I should get a part-time job as well.  NCC was not far from the Roosevelt Field Mall, so a job in retail was an obvious choice.  I applied at Gap, Banana, J.Crew, and even J Press (they had a shitty little store there at the time.)  J.Crew was the company that came calling, and I landed my first job in the retail industry (fig 2.)

fig 2.I immediately put my discount to use buying classic twills, oxfords, ties, sweaters, a couple of jackets, etc.  My favorite was the classic rollneck.  They had a sample sale that year (that’s right – they did not hold their first ever four years ago) where I picked up a ton of stuff on the cheap.  I was a working college student dressing like a working college student.  I looked the part and acted the part.

Later that year I was offered a job at Emporio Armani located at the Americana Manhasset.  The position was technically full-time, but allowed me the flexibility of working with my class schedule – now full-time at Post – and leaving me with very little free time.  I didn’t mind.  But something changed.  I started to dress, not like a college student, but like a highly stylish 20 something.  And much to the argument of many of the style bloggers today, I had customers who were kids – in their teens – buying Emporio Armani, and dressing very well.  This young people dressing well thing is not a new phenomenon.  But because of the popularity of style blogs, and ease of access to WiFi and cameras, they all think they inspired it.  Not true.

Two recent articles really made me think about this as a whole – one argues against young college students dressing like old men, and the other counters it.  Both are valid arguments.  People should be able to dress however they damn well wish to as it relates to where they are in life.  My next two years at CW Post were also spend working five days a week at Emporio Armani (fig 3.).  And the longer I worked there, and the more money I made, the more clothing I purchased.  I became that weird guy wearing wool pants to class while everyone else was in jeans, sneakers, plaid shirts, and thick wool sweaters from Abercrombie & Fitch (fig 4.), J.Crew, and American Eagle.  And guess who was meeting all the cute girls – it wasn’t me.  And it wasn’t for lack of trying.  I thought I looked pretty good, but it just didn’t fit with the CW Post mold.  Perhaps if I’d spent more time on campus, and less working in a store that sold $900 suits I would have realized that.  Shit happens.

fig 4.I graduated college in December 1999.  I went to work briefly work a small ladies sportswear company in New York’s Garment District, and realized I hated it.  My Emporio Armani store had closed, and a new Giorgio Armani Black Label store was opening in its place.  I went back to work there as I really liked the company, and it would give me some time to think about what I really wanted to do with my life.  In spring 2001, I took a job with a company that managed the installation of display fixtures at retail stores.  Our office was located in downtown Manhattan.  On September 11th we all witnessed the World Trade Center attacks.  After that, I had a lot to think about.  I wondered if I had wasted my youth on worrying about trying to dress well rather than enjoying myself.  I think I started out college the right way, but I don’t feel satisfied with the way I finished.  I will never get those days back.

I spent the next several months trying to reclaim my youth.  I started wearing jeans again, and shopping back at my old favorite, J.Crew.  This was the pre-Mickey era, and the clothes were still the same, simple designs I enjoyed wearing in 1997.  Then the world changed.  Blogs started to replace traditional magazines.  Everybody had a voice and an opinion now.  Then, the #Menswear revolution.  Has this been a bad thing?  Not at all.  I read a number of the menswear blogs out there.  Many of them are very good.  These guys have great style, and have become very influential on the industry as a whole.  Stores have become easier, and more comfortable to shop.  And aside from the ridiculous thing called “hipster style” most of what’s coming out looks pretty good.

I guess the point of this post was lost somewhere.  I was merely reacting to two points of view on college kids dressing their own age.  I say they can dress however they want to, just so long as how they are dressing is appropriate for the lifestyle they have chosen to live at this point in their lives, and that they are happy doing it.  The choices I made as a college student brought me to where I am today.  I feel I have created a very good career for myself in the retail fixture industry.  I live in a nice neighborhood, am married to a wonderful woman, and am surrounded by great friends.  I could have done things differently while in school.  I may have enjoyed that time a little more.  But I don’t regret the choices I made that brought me to where I am today.

Make choices as you see fit, but make sure the ideas are yours.  No regrets.